If you let Lionel Messi’s recent ‘goal drought’ sway you back towards Cristiano Ronaldo in the infamous GOAT debate, now’s the time to think again and eat some humble pie.
The Barça forward returned to goalscoring form with a bang on Saturday in front of the Camp Nou faithful, registering a spectacular first-half hat-trick against relegation strugglers Eibar.
This hat-trick, Messi’s 48th of his club-career, sees him surpass Ronaldo’s career hat-trick total of 47 – a stat which adds a bit more fuel to the already-raging debate around the pair.
It also gave him some distance from Ronaldo towards the top of the La Liga all-time hat-trick charts: he now has 36 in Spain’s top division, two more than his Portuguese rival managed.
Before we go any further, allow us to indulge you with a little retrospective look at how Messi tore apart the poor Eibar defence and made this latest remarkable hat-trick happen.
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The Eibar defence initially held firm against Barcelona’s attacking onslaught in a lively opening 10, but it wasn’t long before a typical moment of Messi magic secured the breakthrough.
With 14 minutes on the clock, the forward executed a perfectly-timed nutmeg and danced his way through a crowd to set himself one-on-one, before dinking the ball into the far corner.
The Argentinian maestro secured a second 20 minutes later, using his blistering pace to evade several defenders before slotting another past Dmitrovic in the Eibar goal.
And to the surprise of no-one, Messi tied up the hat-trick just two minutes later, finding himself in a prime spot to score from close range and propel Barça back towards the top of La Liga.
He even added a fourth late on, with a chance created by none other than Martin Braithwaite on his Barcelona debut – we’re not sure we necessarily saw that one coming!
Arthur added another to make it 5-0 at the close: a result which sees Barça move two points above rivals Real Madrid ahead of their tie with Levante.
In light of this latest performance, you’d be forgiven at this point for wondering what individual goal-scoring targets Messi has left to meet. But believe it or not, there are some!
The fastest hat-trick in La Liga history, for example, still belongs to Kevin Gameiro, who scored a treble inside five minutes for Athletico Madrid against Sporting Gijon in 2017.
And although today’s treble saw him surpass Ronaldo in the club hat-trick standings, Messi’s still just behind him in career hat-tricks across all competitions – 54 to 56.
So, there’s still something for the Argentine to aim for!News Now - Sport News